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HER Number:MDV795
Name:Watermouth Castle, Berrynarbor


A country house built to resemble a castle. It was built 1825-6 with the interior and alterations to north front being completed in 1845. Further alterations took place in the later 19th and 20th centuries. Earlier concealed foundations are said to survive in cellars.


Grid Reference:SS 555 480
Map Sheet:SS54NE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishBerrynarbor
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBERRYNARBOR

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS54NE/1
  • Old Listed Building Ref (II*)

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • COUNTRY HOUSE (Built, XIX - 1801 AD to 1900 AD (Between))

Full description

REID, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV58779.

Enlarged by wightwick for arthur basset. Now an entertainment centre (reid,).

PEVSNER AND BANNISTER, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV62118.

Watermouth castle. Castellated mansion built in 1825. Carved oak door from umberleigh chapel; in sub-tropical gardens an arch made from elaborately decorated stonework panels from the porch of umberleigh house. One panel has the date 1525, others with flamboyant wheels, shields etc (pevsner and bannister).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV62122.

Bannister, g. W. /tda/65(1933)32/proceedings at the 72nd. Annual meeting.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV62123.

Pevsner, n. /north devon/(1952).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV62124.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV62125.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV62126.

Cherry, b. + pevsner, n. /the buildings of england: devon/(1989).

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV62127.


Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV62128.

Thorp, r.(keystone)/observations during repairs to umberleigh house, atherington, devon/(1999)/keystone report k600.

Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV62129.

Reid, r. /tda/128(1996)135/the architectural work of george wightwick.

THORP, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV24183.

Porch dated 1525 is believed to have been removed from umberleigh house in early 19c (thorp).

Department of Environment, Untitled Source (Migrated Record). SDV325794.

Country house, built to resemble a castle. Built 1825-6, completion of interior and alterations to north front in 1845 by george wightwick; late 19th century and 20th century alterations, but earlier concealed foundations said to survive in cellars. Unrendered stone rubble with ashlar dressings. Tall stacks. Two storeys with cellars. Castellated gothic style. Complex plan, very decorated. See doe list for full details (doe).

Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J., 2007, The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report, No. 802 (Report - Assessment). SDV339712.

Clark, J. + Richardson, D., 2013, Watermouth Castle (Un-published). SDV358393.

A big castellated mansion with a splendid wide view over the Bristol Channel. Begun in 1825, but circa 1845 ‘taken in hand, a mere shell. Furnishings mostly new’ by George Wightwick, as his annotated drawings tell us, for Arthur Basset.

Ordnance Survey, 2016, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359352.

Historic England, 2016, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV359353.

Watermoouth Castle, including front retaining wall and rear courtyard walls. Country house, built to resemble a castle. 1825-6, completion of interior and alterations to north front in 1845 by George Wightwick; later C19 and C20 alterations, but earlier concealed foundations said to survive in cellars. Unrendered stone rubble with ashlar dressings. Embattled parapets conceal roof. Tall stacks with crenenated caps. The plan hinges on the large impressive entrance stairhall which runs axially through the length of the north-west facing range, which is of 4 bays flanked by projecting turrets, the left-hand turret embellished with an additional smaller polygonal turret at its outer angle. The entrance stairhall, which divides 3 rooms in parallel to front and rear, terminates in entrance doorways at each end, the left (north-east) side being treated as the principal entrance front. Projecting square turrets with small polygonal turrets at their inner angles flank the entrance doorway. To the left, and only a single room deep, is a 3-bay range, the narrow central bay breaking forward to form a clock turret and incorporating postern doorway. This range terminates at the left end in a projecting square turret. To the rear, a parallel range forms an overall 3-sided rear courtyard plan. Originally, this rear courtyard was entirely enclosed but the range on the south- east side, including the square turret at the corner with the parallel rear range, was demolished probably in late C19. Turreted curtain walls at the right end of the north-west range form an additional courtyard incorporating main carriage entrance archway, and are carried round as the buttressed front retaining walls to the castle promontory. Castellated Gothic style. 2 storeys with cellars. All fenestration to the 2 principal fronts have 4-centred arched lights and hoodmoulds with returned ends. The 2 turrets flanking the main porch to the principal entrance front have 3-light windows on each floor and single light windows to the polygonal turrets at the inner angles with stone crests above. The central entrance 4-centred archway, built out in line with the turrets, has a heavily moulded surround with quatrefoil and mouchette decoration to the spandrels and gargoyles flanking the hoodmould. Stone balustrade above pierced with long-lobed quatrefoils. Main door of 2 leaves with Y- bar ribbing. In the recess above the porch is 3-light transomed window with Y- glazing bars, the hoodmould carried up over 2 quatrefoil stone insets. Large stone heraldic crest over. To the left, 2-light windows on each floor flank the projecting clock turret with clock face over a single light window and a central quatrefoil clasping a shield over 4-centred arched doorway with moulded surround and studded door reached by a flight of stone steps. At the left end, the projecting square turret has a 3-light window over a canted bay window of 3 lights with single sidelights and stone parapet pierced by long-lobed quatrefoils. North-west facade has 4-window range of 2-light windows, the ground floor windows transomed except 2nd bay from left which has a canted bay window of 3 lights with single sidelights and stone parapet pierced with quatrefoils. The left-hand turret has a single light window one each floor, the ground floor transomed, and right-hand turret has stone crest above a 2-light over a transomed 3-light window. The opposing rear entrance has a moulded 4-centred arch with crest and stepped gable above. The main carriage entrance incorporated in the rear courtyard walls which have polygonal corner turrets, has a 4-centred arch with quatrefoil decoration to the spandrels, heavy studded doors with portcullis grille above. Over the archway is an heraldic stone panel over a lozenge-shaped stone crest flanked by quatrefoils. Interior: the C19 Gothic decoration of the impressive entrance hall with grand staircase to rear remains intact including trabeated ceiling with carved bosses at the intersections of the moulded beams, dado panelling, Devon marble fireplace and fire basket, and doorcases with crenellations over the panelled cornices and engaged colonnettes flanking 4-centred arched doorways. The central staircase at the rear breaks into 2 flights and has heavy fluted balusters and massive carved newels. The staircase is screened from the rest of the hall by a 3-bay open-traceried screen, the side bays of 6 trefoil-headed lights with quatrefoil traceried heads. The screen supports a minstrels gallery with fluted balusters and crenellated top rails. The balconies to each side have 4-centred arches and balustrades with slender balusters and crenellated hand rails. Principal room to left of hall has ornate geometrical plaster ceiling with acanthus-leaf decoration to the cornice, chinoiserie-style dado panelling, chimneypiece with enriched marble festoon to the mantel and original doors and doorcases. Principal room to right has trabeated ceiling with bosses at the intersections, while the room adjoining has an elaborate plaster ceiling composed of an oval band of oak leaves with inner and outer shaped ribs and crests at the 4 corners. Watermouth Castle was built by the Basset family and remained in the occupation of their descendants until 1946.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV24183Migrated Record: THORP.
SDV325794Migrated Record: Department of Environment.
SDV339712Report - Assessment: Collings, A. G. + Manning, P. T. + Valentin, J.. 2007. The North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Phase 1. Archaeological Survey. Summary Report. Exeter Archaeology Report. 06.22 (rev.1). A4 Stapled + Digital. No. 802.
SDV358393Un-published: Clark, J. + Richardson, D.. 2013. Watermouth Castle. Devon Local Register of Parks and Gardens of Local Historic Interest. Digital.
SDV359352Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2016. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital. [Mapped feature: #106299 ]
SDV359353National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2016. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital.
SDV58779Migrated Record: REID.
SDV62122Migrated Record:
SDV62123Migrated Record:
SDV62124Migrated Record:
SDV62125Migrated Record:
SDV62126Migrated Record:
SDV62127Migrated Record:
SDV62128Migrated Record:
SDV62129Migrated Record:

Associated Monuments

MDV112314Related to: Watermouth Castle Gardens (Park/Garden)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jan 29 2016 10:18AM